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How to check if someone is available for venting

Venting is a two-way street of emotional care. Here are some things you need to check before venting to a friend or other loved ones.

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The saying 'be kind, you don't know what the other person is going through' is common in social interaction encouraging people to be more empathetic and practice compassion. In some cases, it is true for those in need just as much as for those whose help or attention is needed.

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A prime example is venting among friends. Perhaps this is one of the reasons social media is popular when it comes to venting. It is a big pool of people and a few of them are in the space to be there for you.

However, the same can't be said for friends. One person can be limited in how they can be there for you at any given time. This can create a dilemma because there are some things you cannot tell the world and need those close to you.

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This is why it is important to create boundaries around venting.

Venting in social interaction means giving free expression to an emotion, usually a strong one.

When we vent, we expect to be listened to, heard, understood, and comforted.

To be clear, your friend might not be in the position to be there for you but this is not a selfish thing in any way. For one, if you vent to someone who is not in the space to be there for you it can be less than helpful.

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  1. You are less likely to get the attention and care you need. If the person spends the entire time wishing they were doing something else, it will not only be insulting to you but it may sour your relationship.
  2. It can encourage bad communication dynamics. For example, one person may feel like they cannot vent to you but have to be there for you. The one who vents and the one who listens.
  3. It can be habit-forming where venting becomes a relationship or friendship "thing" simply because there's someone willing to listen.

To be fair, venting is not done with bad intentions. But creating space for it can make it more helpful.

So asking for permission not only helps the other person, but it helps also helps you and keeps your relationships healthy. Moreover, people are more willing to be there for you if you show the same conduct for them.

Here are some things to ask before venting.

  1. "Do you have the emotional capacity to listen to me vent about something for a few minutes?"
  2. "Hey, is this a good time to talk? I am feeling a way about something and need someone to share this with."
  3. "I want to process a situation with you. Do you have the mental space to listen?"
  4. "I've had a stressful day and need to let go. Are you in a good space emotionally to listen?"
  5. "I am having a bad day but I know you're struggling too. Are you available and alright to talk?"
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Relationships thrive off give and take, and boundaries. Some people will not take a friend's possession without asking and the same can be applied to emotional and mental space for the benefit of everyone involved.

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